Mayor, council member of Marvin accused of illegally spending tax dollars

The Mayor and a council member for the Village of Marvin are each accused of using more than $11,000 of taxpayer money to fund a private legal battle.

In a sworn affidavit, current council member Mary Shkut said there is "proof" that Mayor Joe Pollino and council member Kimberly Vandenberg, "authorized, directed, and allowed the Village [of Marvin] to use public funds-- money obtained from the Village's taxpayers-- to pay their private counsel to prepare, file, and prosecute [a] private lawsuit for [their] own personal and political gain."

"I think that they either knew or should have know," Shkut said.

Shkut was appointed to her council seat in 2018, but it came with controversy.

Pollino and Vandenberg opposed her appointment because it was done while one council member was absent. This led to certain council members refusing to organize public meetings, which, eventually, led to a temporary government shutdown in Marvin.

Shkut filed a lawsuit against the town to have her seat validated.

Pollino and Vandenberg filed a private suit against Shkut to object her appointment. This challege of her seat is called a "quo warranto action" and cannot be filed by governing entities, only private citizens (or an action from the North Carolina Attorney General).

North Carolina General Statute 41, 1-521 reads, in part: "It is unlawful to appropriate any public funds to the payment of counsel fees in any such action."

Shkut, who is listed on Marvin's website as an active council member, said she had been digging through paperwork that confirmed $11,007.50 of taxpayer money has been spent on legal fees related to the quo warranto action.

The affidavit reads that this happened from May 31, 2018, up to at least September 2018.

"[I think they need to] take the public trust that's given to them more seriously," Shkut said.

FOX 46 reached out to Pollino and Vandenberg. Both said they are out of state on separate vacations but believe they've acted "appropriately" at all times with their attorneys.

Each said they would be available for further comment at a later date this week.

The quo warranto action to vacate Shkut's seat by Polliono and Vandenberg was dismissed in Union County court. It is now under appeal with a court date scheduled for Feb. 4.